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Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) 4 Drawings including Macbeth saluted by witches study
  • Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) 4 Drawings including Macbeth saluted by witches study

    We are delighted to have for sale a collection of over 60 drawings by Samuel Shelley (1750-1808). It is rare to have such a large collection by the artist and many are sketches and studies for some of Shelley's important works. We are selling them individually and some in groups.


    The portfolio they come from is one of a few volumes of drawings by the artist, seven of which are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and various other drawings are dispersed across the collections of the British Museum, the Royal Academy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, and the Wichita Museum. They all are numbered in the same fashion as our drawings which helps to show these are portfolio works by Shelley.


    Our set comes from a collection that has the original front and backboard for the portfolio (note, these do not come with the listing) with the following description of the contents:


    'Shelley (Samuel) 1750-1808, Artists Sketch Book, A Collection of 241 Studies in Pen and Bistro, Pencil and Crayon &c., consisting of Illustrations to the Poets, including Milton, Prior, Shakespeare, Wharton's Odes to Fancy, Don Quixote, Pegasus, between Tragedy and Comedy, Aldysus and Antigone, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Henry and Emma, Cupid and Psyche, Book illustrations, Portraits of Ladies &c., the whole mounted in a an old scrap book on dark grey paper, 4to, hf. bnd. (1 cover loose).'


    Our set contains landscape and architectural studies as well as sketches for portraits, subject pictures and genre scenes. Landscape and architectural studies, a rarity in Shelley’s oeuvre (with the only other example – an ink and watercolour drawing – at the Met), are the subject of at least seven drawings in the portfolio including one titled ‘Picturesque Cottage, St Margarets Bay, Dover’.


    In addition, there are a number of studies linked to Shelley’s miniatures exhibited at the Royal Academy, as well as his other drawings in various collections.


    This listing is for four drawings on two seperate sheets. They are numbered 199 and 263.


    No. 199 is likely a study for one of the witches in Shelley's watercolour 'Macbeth saluted by the witches' which is held in the V&A ( The figure in our drawing has her hands in a very similar position to the central figure in the V&A picture. Another suggestion is that it could be an angel used for a different work by Shelley. Verso there is a study of some foliage.


    No. 263 is an intriguing classical genre scene by Shelley. One character is clearly banishing the other with their right arm raised. The other character is in a bed and through the window there is a moon in the sky. Verso the artist has drawn a scene mainly in pencil but has added pen and ink to the character on the left hand-side. There is a tree obvious on the right.


    Medium: pencil and pen and ink on paper, No. 199 measures 10.4 x 7.3cm, and No. 263 measures 7.5 x 7.6cm. Note the sheets are loose and not mounted or framed.


    Provenance: Samuel Shelley's Sketchbook; Private Collection, U.K.


    Condition report: please see photographs, each sheet has some time staining and paper stuck verso from previous mounting.


    We would like to thank Pola Durajska for her help in cataloguing our works by Shelley.

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